New climbs, 70km option in 2008 Highclere Castle sportive

Leisure riders' route plus 3000m of Hampshire Downs climbing for the tough

The 2008 Highclere Castle Victor Ludorum Challenge cyclo-sportive event will include the return of the tough ‘Scorpion Sting’ climbs – back-to-back grades of 25 percent and 30 percent – and two new climbs, Harting Hill and Stokes Hill, for a total of 3000m of climbing in the 200km route.

If that sounds a little daunting, there are too shorter events on offer, the 120km Hampshire Downs Challenge and the new 70km Highclere Challenge which is designed to give leisure cyclists the chance to ride the outbound and returning sections of the championship course. There are also two team events, the 200km Victor Ludorum Highclere Wheelers and 70km Highclere Cup.

Organisers Britain By Bicycle are also introducing events for members of the armed forces and emergency services for the first time in 2008. The 200km Victor Ludorum Inter Services Challenge and 120km Hampshire Downs Inter Services Cup are open to riders from the Army, Royal Navy, RAF, Fire, Police and Ambulance Services.

The 2007 Highclere Castle sportive saw 650 riders tackle the Hampshire hills and got rave reviews in sportive forums for its organisation. “You couldn't get a friendlier and more helpful support team both at HQ and all the feedstations,” said one poster on

As in previous editions, the 2008 event will be a fund-raiser for the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund.

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